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Author Topic: My Japanese Coach [DS]  (Read 1406 times)
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Canuck
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« on: October 15, 2008, 10:42:52 PM »

Anyone pick this up? Apparently it was released on the DS. Might be a fun way to study Japanese.
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semiconscious
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2008, 11:48:55 PM »

once the holidays're gone (i just spent $350 pre-ordering the rest of my 2008 gaming needs!), & i get a minute, i'm definitely thinking of checking this out...
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Qbe
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« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2008, 05:24:25 AM »

Good timing--I just spent an hour or so with "My Japanese Coach" (couldn't resist).

First impression after that hour: this is pretty cool.  It uses a lesson-based format, each of which introduces a little bite (yes, I said "bite", not a typo) of Japanese vocabulary, grammar, culture and writing.  You can hear each word and phrase spoken by a female speaker.  You can practice saying words and phrases, then compare your pronunciation (I finally cracked open that headset I bought last year to give it a try, and the recording quality is pretty good).  You can practice writing kana (I haven't seen any kanji yet) and compare against the CPU.

You unlock new lessons and activities by "mastering" each lesson's content.  After completing a lesson you may still need to earn points toward that mastery; you do so primarily by playing minigames: so far I've seen matching, word search, Memory (like the card game), and Whack-a-mole (they call it "Hit a word"). 

That last one really sold me.  You're told to tap gophers that match a particular word, and you only get a few seconds before they're gone.  First time through the gophers' words were all romaji.  Yawn.  Easy.  Next time half were in kana, and I really had to hop to keep up.  Speed-recognition and reading of kana?  Cool.

And there's a dictionary, and a phrase book (with audio pronunciation), and I'm sure there's plenty more I haven't seen yet.

This won't be a complete comprehensive Japanese course by any means, but it packs in a lot of content and activities.  I'm a follower of the All Japanese All The Time school of thought--immerse yourself in as much foreign language content as possible to aid learning--and can see where this would be a great additional learning tool.  It probably has its downsides too--I hope there's a male speaker at some point, and I have no idea how far the content will go--but so far this seems to be a good value and a fun tool to aid in learning Japanese.
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Canuck
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2008, 08:22:26 AM »

Thanks for the write-up Qbe!  Sounds quite fun!  Whack-a mole with romaji seems a little pointless.  But it would definitely be useful for those learnig katakana and hiragana.  What I especially need is a kanji version of that!  I also subscribe to the "language all the time" train of thought although I don't actually follow it (is that an oxymoron?)  What I mean is that I think it's a good idea, in theory, IN THEORY.  Of course being in Japan makes it a little easier for me to do that.  Most people can't very well go out for some groceries and speak Japanese to the person at the register.  Please give us some more feedback when you get some more time in with it!
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wonderpug
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« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2008, 12:54:25 PM »

Thanks a lot for the impressions, Qbe!

Can you tell if it's going to have any grammar or full sentences involved, or does it seem like it's going to be mostly vocabulary and reading/writing?
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Frogstar
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2008, 02:58:46 PM »

I thought about picking this one up.

Do you think that someone using this application could learn enough to navigate menus (or achieve some cursory understanding of a plot or storyline) in a Japanese game?       
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Canuck
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2008, 09:39:11 PM »

Well since a lot of menus and stats generally tend to be in katakana I would say yes
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Qbe
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« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2008, 12:28:26 AM »

Quote from: wonderpug on October 16, 2008, 12:54:25 PM

Thanks a lot for the impressions, Qbe!

Can you tell if it's going to have any grammar or full sentences involved, or does it seem like it's going to be mostly vocabulary and reading/writing?

I did another lesson at lunch today--it's still pretty basic and I haven't seen any new types of games yet.

The minigames so far seem to be primarily vocabulary recognition and reading/writing.

The lessons themselves cover grammar and sentences.  You can practice reading and speaking there, but sentence-level review seems to be absent from the minigames.  They'll quiz you on words you learned during the lesson, including verb forms (as far as I've seen), but you don't have opportunity to reproduce sentences yourself.  At least, not through lesson 12.  That's where Pimsleur really stood out for me.

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Qbe
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« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2008, 12:33:30 AM »

Quote from: Frogstar on October 16, 2008, 02:58:46 PM

I thought about picking this one up.

Do you think that someone using this application could learn enough to navigate menus (or achieve some cursory understanding of a plot or storyline) in a Japanese game?       

That'd be cool (learning enough to get some understanding in a Japanese game), but I don't know how far "My Japanese Coach" takes you.  You'll definitely learn the kana and be able to read some words early on.  However, all the games I've tried have plenty of kanji too, and that raises the learning curve.  "My Japanese Coach" would be enough to get you started, but there'll be plenty more work to do.  Some of us consider that to be fun  icon_smile
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onnel
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« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2008, 02:40:32 AM »

BTW..if anyone is seriously interested in learning Japanese may I recommend JOI - http://www.japonin.com/.  Their teachers are good, the software very functional and prices reasonable.  If anyone is looking for live (over the internet) Japanese lessons then I heartily recommend them.

I'm in no way affiliated with them other than being a satisfied student.
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Misguided
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« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2008, 03:02:24 AM »

I think I'm learnin' Japanese, I think I'm learnin' japanese I really think so!

oh come on, it HAD to be done!  ninja
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D.A.Lewis
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« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2008, 05:10:14 AM »

Got it
Love it
will keep it

While I am not deluded enough to think I will be fluent, perhaps, after I master the cart I will be able to tackle a more comprehensive software program (Roseta)  or even take a real class.
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wonderpug
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2008, 03:34:36 PM »

I picked this up last Thursday and I think overall I'm quite happy with the game.

First, my background.  Three or so years ago I used Heisig's Remembering the Kana to learn hiragana and katakana, used Pimsleur Japanese 1 and 2 to learn basic spoken conversational Japanese, and then had a 3 week trip to Japan to cement the real basic conversational language.  I dabbled a bit in kanji but didn't go much past the first or second grade level.

Now here I am several years later jumping into My Japanese Coach with a lot of my prior Japanese knowledge getting rusty. 

The game starts you off with a placement test.  It doesn't really test your overall knowledge to then place you; it basically goes sequentially through the game's lessons giving you a pop quiz on each lesson's subject matter.  If you miss two questions in a row you're placed at that level.

I breezed through what seemed to be basic greetings and phrases vocabulary, some basic numbers, and then got two wrong in a row when it got to colors.  I did need a lesson in colors since I only knew 2 or 3 going in, but overall I don't think it was an accurate placement for me.  I'm now on lesson 19 and aside from a few new vocab words here and there it's mostly all stuff I already knew.  Still, it's been a good review.

Once you get a few lessons in they start throwing hiragana (the 46 character alphabet) at you.  One lesson will be 10 hiragana characters, the next will be 10 vocab words, then back to 10 hiragana.  When I hit the last 46 characters they started throwing in katakana, the other 46 character alphabet.  They just progress through the kana alphabetically; I think it would be much better if they gave you building blocks for simple words so that you could reinforce the kana through real application.

It's been a great, great review tool for me, because while I can read hiragana and katakana pretty well I've hardly practiced writing it and I have a hard time recalling characters from memory.  I'm really not sure how well the system would work for people seeing the characters for the first time, though.  They stress the importance of stroke order, and they do show you the proper stroke order, but when you're actually being tested on your writing the handwriting detection doesn't care at all what order you use, and won't even mention if you've written it in the wrong order. 

In addition, the game doesn't really prompt you to review previous material.  You have to take the initiative to play games for old material even though you won't get any 'points' to reward your effort.  If this is all new to you, and you just follow the lesson progression, I think there's absolutely no way you'll remember the first 10 hiragana by the time you get to the last 10, let alone by the time you get to the last 10 katakana.

There's some problems with the games you play as well.  The whack-a-mole game, for example, seems like a good idea but in practice over 50% of the moles that pop up display the word that's being tested, so as soon as you see a lot of one word or character you know that's the right one.  You could test me on ancient Egyptian and I'd be able to ace the game on the first try.

Still, if you stick to the better games they do work well as learning aids.  I pretty much stick to the flash cards for vocab, the 'fading characters' game for learning how to draw new characters, and the 'write cards' game to memorize the new characters.  I've only unlocked half the games so maybe there's some more gems to be seen down the line.

Right now I'm really really happy with the game for what I'm looking for, which is a fun way to expand my vocabulary and get more practice reading and writing kanji.  I don't know how well the game would work for someone's first introduction to Japanese unless you are good at setting up your own study regimen.  I think buying some supplemental study books would really help the game work, because from the looks of things I doubt the game is going to do a very good job explaining how kanji characters break down.  I'm guessing they'll just be throwing 10 new kanji at a time at you, but since I haven't gotten to any kanji yet I shouldn't be so quick to judge.

I'll stop there since this ended up a lot longer than I expected, but I'm really curious to see how the game holds up to you folks learning the language for the first time.
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